John N. Brick

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Christopher D. Geisel, PhD.


High-altitude satellite trajectories are analyzed in the Earth-Moon circular restricted three-body problem. The equations of motion for this dynamical model possess no known closed-form analytical solution; therefore, numerical methods are employed. To gain insight into the dynamics of high-altitude trajectories in this multi-body dynamical environment, periapsis Poincare' maps are generated at particular values of the Jacobi Constant. These maps are employed as visual aids to generate initial guesses for orbital transfers and to determine the predictability of the long term behavior of a spacecraft's trajectory. Results of the current investigation demonstrate that high-altitude transfers may be performed for comparable, and in some cases less, V than conventional transfers. Additionally, transfers are found that are more timely than a launch-on-demand capability that requires 30 days lead time. The ability of satellites in such orbits to provide remote sensing coverage of the surface of the Earth is also assessed and found to be low relative to that of a satellite at geostationary altitude (35,786 km); however, intervals of high performance exist. The current investigation demonstrates not only the potential utility of high-altitude satellite trajectories for military applications but also an effective implementation of methods from dynamical systems theory.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number